This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001


Japanese Folk Dance Institute of NY at Sakura Matsuri. Photo by Julie Markes. Courtesy of Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

The Japanese Folk Dance Institute of NY will return to annual Sakura Matsuri in Brooklyn (photo by Julie Markes / courtesy of Brooklyn Botanic Garden)

Brooklyn Botanic Garden
900 Washington Ave. at Eastern Parkway
Saturday, April 29, and Sunday, April 30, $25-$30 (children under twelve free), 10:00 am - 6:00 pm

It’s still frightfully cold as May approaches, but perhaps spring will be in the air this weekend for one of the city’s most fabulous annual festivals, the Sakura Matsuri at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. The weekend celebrates the beauty of the blossoming of the cherry trees with live music and dance, parades, workshops, demonstrations, martial arts, fashion shows, a community bookstore, a bonsai exhibit, Shogi chess, garden tours, the Mataro Ningyo Doll Museum, book signings, giant origami, food, clothing, cosplay, kimonos, insect hotels, a Japanese market (Ito En, Minamoto Kitchoan, Royce’ and Raaka Chocolates, sushi pillows, tenugui wraps, handmade hair ornaments, Togei Kyoshitsu Ceramics), lots of children’s activities, and more. Among the guests are Runi Hara, Kate T. Williamson, Sophocles Plokamakis, Jed Henry, Rio Koike, Soumi Shimizu, Sōkyo Shimizu, Akim Funk Buddha, Jeremy Aaron Horland, J-Music Ensemble, and Tao Yaguchi. Below are daily featured highlights of this always lovely party, with many events going on all day long and over both days; advance tickets are required. To track the blooming of the cherries, check out the updates here.

Saturday, April 29

The Art of Kendama (wooden toys in motion), with Team KENYC and DJ Panic, J-Lounge Stage at the Osborne Garden, 11:00

Takarabune Dance: Awa Odori dance and narimono drum ensemble from Shikoku, J-Lounge Stage at the Osborne Garden, 12 noon

Dancejapan with Sachiyo Ito, Main Stage at Cherry Esplanade, 1:30

Ukiyo-e Illustration Demonstration with Jed Henry, Ink Alley at the Osborne Garden, 2:00

Stand-up Comic Rio: Rio Koike’s Tokyo Magic Show, J-Lounge Stage at the Osborne Garden, 3:15

Sohenryu Tea Ceremony, with tea masters Soumi Shimizu and Sōkyo Shimizu, BBG Tea Center at the Auditorium, 4:00

Hanagasa Odori flower hat procession, with the Japanese Folk Dance Institute of New York, J-Lounge Stage at the Osborne Garden, 4:00

Uhnellys indie rock, Main Stage at Cherry Esplanade, 5:15

Sunday, April 30

Japanese Garden Stroll, guided tour, Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, 10:00 am

Akim Funk Buddha’s Urban Tea Ceremony Unplugged, BBG Tea Center at the Auditorium, 12 noon

Kuni Mikami & East of the Sun, J-Lounge Stage at the Osborne Garden, 1:00

Sohenryu Tea Ceremony for Families, with tea masters Soumi Shimizu and Sōkyo Shimizu, BBG Tea Center at the Auditorium, 2:00

KuroPOP, J-pop dance party, J-Lounge at Osborne Garden, 2:30

Manga Drawing with Misako Rocks, the Osborne Garden, 3:00

NY Suwa Taiko Kids All Stars, J-Lounge Stage at the Osborne Garden, 4:15

The Eighth Annual Sakura Matsuri Cosplay Fashion Show, with hosts Becka Noel and Dhareza Cosplayza and original music by Taiko Masala, Main Stage at Cherry Esplanade, 5:15


(photo by Mena Burnette of xmbphotography)

Okwui Okpokwasili’s POOR PEOPLE’S TV ROOM makes its New York premiere April 19-29 at NYLA (photo by Mena Burnette of xmbphotography)

New York Live Arts
219 West 19th St. between Sixth & Seventh Aves.
April 19-22, 26-29, $15-$35, 7:30

Three-time Bessie-winning dancer, choreographer, actress, and writer Okwui Okpokwasili will present the New York premiere of Poor People’s TV Room at New York Live Arts this week, a multidisciplinary exploration of forgotten black and brown women, inspired by the Igbo Women’s War of 1929 in her parents’ native Nigeria as well as the Black Lives Matter movement, Boko Haram, and colonialism. The work, which is the result of a two-year residency at NYLA, features songs, choreography, and text by Okpokwasili and visual designer Peter Born and will be performed by Okpokwasili, Thuli Dumakude, Katrina Reid, and Nehemoyia Young. “Focusing on cultural and historical memory, Poor People’s TV Room is a kind of rumination on absence — how particular forms of mediation, particular ways of looking and framing in attempting to create visibility, may hasten invisibility,” the Bronx-raised, Brooklyn-based Okpokwasili (Bronx Gothic, Pent Up: A Revenge Dance) said in a statement. “I’m thinking of the ‘Bring Back Our Girls Movement’ and the meme culture. I’m thinking about attempts to recover seminal historical moments from the margins, and what to recover. I am also considering Nollywood and cultural creation and projection and popular mythmaking.” The show, which debuted earlier this year at the Walker Center’s Out There festival, will run at NYLA April 19-22 and 26-29. “It is a space of becoming and unbecoming,” Okpokwasili added. To read Okpokwasili’s thoughts about the current political situation in America, go here.


The countdown is on until STREB: SEA returns to Brooklyn

The countdown is on until STREB: SEA returns to Brooklyn

SLAM (STREB Lab for Action Mechanics)
51 North First St. between Kent & Wythe Aves., Brooklyn, 718-384-6491
Thursday - Sunday, April 13 - May 7, $25 in advance, $29 at door (includes popcorn and one drink)

Elizabeth Streb and her impressive action heroes are daring performers who combine dance and acrobatics in dazzling ways. They’ve strutted their stuff in such venues as the Park Avenue Armory, Gansevoort Plaza, and the World Financial Center, as well as around the world, as documented in Born to Fly: Elizabeth Streb vs. Gravity and OXD: One Extraordinary Day. They are now bringing back Sea to their Williamsburg home, performing the “wild kaleidoscope” from April 13 through May 7. Led by associate artistic director Fabio Tavares and action heroes Leonardo Giron Torres, Cassandre Joseph, Jackie Carlson, Daniel Rysak, Felix Hess, Jamarious Stewart, Loganne Bond, and Matt McEwen, the sixty-minute work will feature DJs and an emcee, invented hardware, and breathtaking — and dangerous — site-specific action events. “In the past few years, it occurred to me that instruments in an orchestra don’t just compose one symphony. A guitar doesn’t just invent one riff or a single melody. Our ‘action machines’ have more than one dance in them,” Streb explains on the company website. Tickets are $25 in advance and include popcorn and one drink.


new at graham

Who: Pontus Lidberg, Kaitlyn Gilliland, Christopher Adams, Martha Graham Dance Company
What: Graham Studio Series: conversation, film screening, and live performance
Where: Martha Graham Studio Theater, 55 Bethune St. at Washington St., eleventh floor
When: Thursday, April 6, $20 in advance, $25 at the door, 7:00
Why: Last April, the Martha Graham Dance Company presented the world premiere of Swedish choreographer Pontus Lidberg’s Woodland, a co-commission with the Library of Congress. For the latest installment of the Graham Studio Series, Lidberg, who is also a filmmaker (The Rain, Labyrinth Within), will be at the company’s home on Bethune St. for a conversation about his work and to offer a sneak peek at his new film, the seventy-minute Written on Water, which stars Aurélie Dupont, former principal dancer and current director of the Paris Opera Ballet, with excerpts performed live by former New York City Ballet principal dancer Kaitlyn Gilliland (BalletNext, BalletCollective, Ballet Tech, Intermezzo Dance Company, and others) and Christopher Adams, current member of Zvidance, Susan Marshall and Company, and Pontus Lidberg Dance. In addition, the company will perform Woodland, which is set to reordered music by Irving Fine. The evening will be followed by a reception.


(photo by twi-ny/mdr)

The fifteenth annual Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Garden transports visitors to Thailand (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

The New York Botanical Garden
Enid A. Haupt Conservatory
2900 Southern Blvd., Bronx
Tuesday – Sunday through April 9, $8-$10 children two to twelve, $20-$25 adults, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
twi-ny orchid slideshow

For its fifteenth annual Orchid Show, the New York Botanical Garden takes visitors to Thailand, a country with a rich orchid history and one of the world’s leading exporters of native and hybrid varieties. The Orchid Society of Thailand was formed in 1957; today Thailand produces more than $80 million worth of orchids every year, and its industry is on the cutting edge of micropropagation and cloning. On view through April 9, “The Orchid Show: Thailand,” inspired by the Nong Nooch Tropical Botanical Garden in Chonburi Province, designed by Christian Primeau, and curated by Marc Hachadourian, features more than a thousand plants in a rainbow of colors that reveal Thailand’s natural diversity, with focuses on dendrobium, vandas, paphiopedilum, and miniatures.

(photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Exhibition features more than a thousand varieties of orchids and other plants native to Thailand (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

The pond display at the entrance boasts an elephant topiary; elephants are Thailand’s national symbol. (Thai topiaries, known as mai dat, date back to the thirteenth century and are generally abstract.) Sky lanterns (khom loi) hang from above, disposing of bad luck and bringing good fortune. A pair of spirit houses, hand-carved by Pirot Gitikoon, are shrines for protective spirits, with flower offerings, incense, candles, dancers, protective dragon spirits (naga), unseen guardian spirits (phra phum), elephants representing transportation, and strawberry soda. The centerpiece of the exhibition is a sala Thai, a place of rest and contemplation; hundreds of orchids grow in the pavilion, which was designed by artist and architect Mom Luang Tridosyuth Devakul (Mom Tri). In addition to orchids, there are other examples of Thai horticulture, including bouganvillea, bamboo, mangoes, bananas, and palms.

Offerings are made at spirit houses for protection (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Offerings are made at spirit houses for protection (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Orchid Evenings take place March 31 (LGBTQ Night) and April 1, 7, and 8 from 6:30 to 9:30, with music and dancing, a cash bar, and no one under twenty-one. (Try the Dancing Lady, created for the show by Edible Bronx mixologist Bruce “Blue” Rivera, consisting of silver tequila, tamarind purée, triple sec, grapefruit juice, and lime juice.) On April 2 and 9 in Ross Hall, “Magical Thailand — A Journey with the Somapa Thai Dance Co.” celebrates Thai art and culture. There are also orchid care demonstrations in the Conservatory GreenSchool on Saturdays and Sundays at 2:30 and 3:30 and orchid experts on call for advice in the NYBG shop Saturdays and Sundays from 1:30 to 4:30.


Joseph Kosuth, “276 (On Color Blue),” neon tubing, transformer, and electrical wires, 1993 (© 2016 Joseph Kosuth / Artists Rights Society, New York. Photo: Brooklyn Museum)

Joseph Kosuth, “276 (On Color Blue),” neon tubing, transformer, and electrical wires, 1993 (© 2016 Joseph Kosuth / Artists Rights Society, New York. Photo: Brooklyn Museum)

Brooklyn Museum
200 Eastern Parkway at Washington St.
Saturday, April 1, free, 5:00 - 11:00

The Brooklyn Museum focuses on numerous aspects of the word “blue” in its April First Saturday program, “Beyond the Blues.” There will be live music and dance by the Martha Redbone Roots Project, Geko Jones and Chiquita Brujita with Fogo Azul and Aina Luz, the Brooklyn Dance Festival (with a workshop), and Queen GodIs with special guests; the pop-up poetry event “An Address of the Times” with Pamela Sneed, Heather Johnson, t’ai freedom ford, and Timothy Du White; a screening of Marcie Begleiter’s Eva Hesse, followed by a discussion with Helen Charash (Hesse’s sister) and producer Karen Shapiro; a hands-on art workshop in which participants can make marbled paper using the Japanese suminagashi (“floating ink”) technique; an Emerging Leaders of New York Arts booth where participants can write postcards in support of the arts, take part in a public art project, and take a #SaveTheNEA selfie; the lecture performance #sky #nofilter by Chloë Bass exploring racial trauma; and a “New York City Participatory Budgeting” program where people can propose and vote on projects in their community. In addition, you can check out such exhibits as “Iggy Pop Life Class by Jeremy Deller,” Marilyn Minter: Pretty/Dirty,” “Infinite Blue,” “A Woman’s Afterlife: Gender Transformation in Ancient Egypt,” and, at a discounted admission price of $12, “Georgia O’Keefe: Living Modern.”


Purva Bedi and Mariana Newhard perform a duet in ASSEMBLED IDENTITY (photo by Benjamin Heller)

Mariana Newhard and Purva Bedi perform a duet in ASSEMBLED IDENTITY at HERE (photo by Benjamin Heller)

145 Sixth Ave. at Dominick St.
March 15-25, $15

HERE’s annual multidisciplinary festival, CultureMart, starts tonight, featuring workshop performances that often defy easy categorization. Things kick off March 15-16 with Purva Bedi, Kristin Marting, and Mariana Newhard’s Assembled Identity, a multimedia duet between Bedi and Newhard that explores just what makes us human, on a shared bill with Trey Lyford’s kinetic solo show The Accountant, about how we can lose our humanity at the office. On March 18-19, Gisela Cardenas + Milica Paranosic and InTandem Lab’s Hybrid Suite No. 2: The Carmen Variations tells the story of fictional archaeologist Elizabeth Sherman, paired with Leah Coloff’s autobiographical song cycle ThisTree. The double bill for March 21-22 consists of Rob Roth’s cinematic hybrid Soundstage, linking the screen goddess with the adoring gay male fan, and Chris Green’s American Weather, an interactive piece performed by Quince Marcum, Katie Melby, and Yasmin Reshamwala. On March 25-26, Zoey Martinson and Smoke & Mirrors Collaborative lead audiences into The Black History Museum . . . According to the United States of America, examining the criminal justice system, while a birthday party turns into much more in Jeremy Bloom and Brian Rady’s Ding Dong It’s the Ocean. CultureMart concludes March 26 with a reading of HERE playwright in residence and downtown legend Taylor Mac’s The Bourgeois Oligarch, the third section of his four-part Dionysia Festival, this one involving a ballet and a philanthropist. With tickets only $15, CultureMart is always a great way to check out new and up-and-coming talent presenting works in progress at one of our favorite spaces.